Argentine forward strikes to complete comeback and help under-fire coach, but the Nerazzurri continue to struggle for form
Strikes from Diego Forlan and Diego Milito help over turn a miserable first half showing from the home side.
Nerazzurri coach Ranieri went into the match increasingly under pressure, with his side having lost seven out of its last eight matches. The under fire coach courageously altered his tactics, with Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder dropping to the bench in favor of a 4-4-2 formation. Andrea Ranocchia and Cristian Chivu also remained on the sidelines.
The visitors came into the encounter with high hopes, having performed admirably of late, but did so without Andrea Campagnolo and Alessandro Potenza respectively, while Gonzalo Bergessio and Pablo Barrientos joined Alejandro Gomez in completing an attacking line up for the Sicilians.
The opening minutes were dominated by the home side, with Diego Forlan looking in ominous mood as the Uruguayan had four good goal scoring opportunities as Catania looked threatening on the counter.
The visitors grew in confidence as the half began to open up and this was demonstrated in the nineteenth minute as they opened the scoring with their first chance. Francesco Lodi’s fine counter attacking move led to Alejando Gomez dummying Yuri Nagatomo to coolly slot home a fine drive past home custodian Julio Cesar.
The home side was lacking any real spark, with no invention in the midfield and a defense which had been breached countlessly over the recent weeks, while Catania had Sergio Almiron orchestrating the play at the heart of the midfield.
As the first half wore on the hosts looked rushed and were determined to get back into the match, but this was to no avail as the Rossazzurri stood firm, closing down all spaces and patiently waiting for an error to happen. Forlan proved the main threat for the home side, but was starved of support from his team mates.
The visitors looked the more likely to score again as Barrientos failed to apply the finishing touches to a Sergio Almiron pass. But a minute later this changed as Catania doubled their lead; albeit controversially as Giovanni Marchese escaped the linesman’s attention, rolling through a cross for Mariano Izco to simply tap in, sending the home fans into chaos in the process.
The away side went into the half time interval fully deserving of its lead as they took its chances, but also prevented Inter from breaking through its impenetrable and well-marshaled defense, with forwards Giampaolo Pazzini and Diego Milito completely subdued.
The decision to leave play maker Sneijder on the substitutes bench seemed a controversial one as the home side lacked any real flair, with Angelo Palombo and Esteban Cambiasso working hard but unable to make the necessary impact in the final third.
The second half saw the introduction of the Dutchman, but he failed to make any initial impact while Cambiasso and Palombo were both replaced in favor of youngsters Andrea Poli and Joel Obi, with Ranieri turning to youth to aid his side’s cause.
The hosts were sloppy in their play as Catania continued on from their impressive first half, enjoying their soccer with Almiron and Bergessio at the heart of everything but Inter got back into the game in the 70th minute as Forlan’s left-footed strike bamboozled visiting keeper Juan Pablo Carrizo to give the Nerazzurri hope.
The introduction of Obi gave Inter the boost it so desperately lacked in the first half as the young Nigerian drove the home side forward. Sensing the home side increasing their tempo, Catania manager Vincenzo Montella subsitiuted Barrientos in favor of the more defensive Felipe Seymour.
The home side’s growing dominance was displayed with 10 minutes remaining as the previously anonymous Milito hit a wonderful rasping drive into the top corner of the net, leaving Carrizo helpless. The home fans had finally seen a reaction from their side and looked the more likely to go on and grab the winning goal.
The final few minutes were end to end, with both sides looking for the goal which would clinch the victory as Sneijder’s influence finally told. Pazzini had a fine chance to complete the turnaround but failed to end his goal scoring drought.
The result leaves Inter Milan in seventh with Catania sitting comfortably in midtable as under fire coach Claudio Ranieri’s troubles continue to grow.